Performance Director Gary Hall hailed the success of GB Taekwondo’s Manchester-based medal factory after the most successful single World Taekwondo Grand Prix for British fighters.
Having achieved five podium places at the World Championships earlier this year, Hall’s squad won five more medals, including golds for Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden and Lauren Williams at the current Grand Prix at London’s Copper Box Arena.
Yorkshire teenager Bradly Sinden (silver at -68kg) and Londoner Mahama Cho (bronze at +80kg) completed the five-star performances.
“The quality of the field was exceptional and the quality of the British performances were exceptional,” said Hall.
“It is testament to the programme in Manchester which is going from strength to strength.
“We have built our system top down and it’s not always the best way,” he admitted.
“But as a result of being successful we have achieved more investment and we have built a development programme that brought the likes of Bradly through and introduced the Fighting Chance initiative that brought Lauren through.
“Lauren was outstanding and she was involved in one of the fights of the tournament,” he said of the 18-year-old Welsh wonder’s breathtaking, high energy win in the -67kg division last Friday.
“She has always had a clear mission on what she wants to achieve. Her family backed it and we have backed it.
“The really exciting bit is she is 70 percent of what she can be. She will be even better.”
Hall was also delighted by Jones’ return to golden form after a World Championship bronze for the Flint ‘Headhunter’ earlier this year and silver at the previous WT Grand Prix in Morocco.
“Jade wanted to do different things and to come back and get a gold in front of a home crowd was exceptional,” he said.
“But there was never anything wrong with Jade Jones. She needed some time out but has a clear target based on Tokyo.
“Three golds has never been done and Jade has the ability to go on and do that. I have no doubt she will carry on building.”
It wasn’t all success though and Britain’s final two competitors, Damon Sansum and Taylor Goodall, suffered last 16 exits after receiving first-round byes.
“I didn’t fight to my best standard and that’s disappointing,” said 2017 World Championship bronze medallist Sansum, beaten 17-10 by Norway’s Andre Ordemann.
“Especially because you don’t get chance to fight in front of your friends, family and fans very often.
“There were glimpses of good action but I lacked that specific sharpness,’ added the 30-year-old Scot.
“It’s hard sometimes when you train so much and sacrifice so much and it doesn’t come off.
“I am just struggling for that consistent high. It’s a top standard but I am striving for that 9 or 10 out of 10 performance.
“I am devastated; it wasn’t the best me and apologise to everyone watching because it didn’t work out the way I wanted.”
Goodall, 18 from Knowsley, lost 14-0 against Wan-Ting Lin of Chinese Taipei but was still delighted by her first ever Grand Prix appearance.
“I was quite shocked to get picked as a wild card,” said the teenager.
“I never thought I would be able to fight at a Grand Prix anytime soon.
“So, to hear everyone shouting when I walked out into the arena was fantastic, especially because my mum and family never normally get a chance to travel abroad watching my fights.
“I need to build up my ranking points now so I can get into more Grand Prix’s. Tokyo 2020 is what I am really aiming for.”
TRUE BRIT! AMAZING AMY CROWNED WORLD PARA TAEKWONDO CHAMP IN LONDON
Amy Truesdale is on top of the Para-Taekwondo World after becoming the champion for the first time at the Copper Box Arena in London on 19th October.
The Chester star added gold to her previous haul of a silver and two bronze medals from her three previous Para World Championship appearances.
Truesdale, the world number one, was dominant throughout the competition at K44 +58kg and it didn’t stop in the final against Morocco’s Rajae Akermach. Her African opponent was 17-3 down when she suffered a final ending injury in round 2.
“I don’t know what happened to her” said Truesdale, eight years after her first World Championship podium place. “She must have picked up an injury. It’s one of those things but a win’s a win.
“I was given gold in 2014 but only by default. I class this as my first World title and hopefully not my last.
“It’s not really sunk in yet but obviously I’m delighted. The home crowd definitely helped me today.
“The real goal is Tokyo 2020 and it will come around really quickly – so I’ve got to make sure I step up my training.”
Truesdale had already completed her first task of the day prior to making a competitive appearance. The four-time World Championship competitor took the athletes oath at the opening ceremony attended by President Choue Chung-won and Julia Newton, Chair of GB Taekwondo.
Despite a lengthy delay prior to her opening bout Truesdale wasted no time running up a 21-1 victory over Brazilian Debora Menezes. Truesdales’ second victory was against Seyma Nur Emeksiz of Turkey 23-4.
Former rugby union player Leif Thobroe touched down with victory on his World Championship debut against African rival Jean Pierre Imanirakiza.
Thobroe, born in Birmingham, but now based in Wales, defeated his Rwandan rival 26-5 in the K42 -61kg category. One more win would have guaranteed a medal but he lost 22-14 to Turkey’s Mehmet Sami Sarac.
“I fought him before, he’s 3rd ranked in the world – so a tough opponent” said Thobroe. “I’m disappointed I didn’t fight my own game but that’s two Quarter Finals in six months so I am happy.
“Tokyo 2020 is the aim but I’m getting better every time I fight, so I am looking forward to my next competition.”